Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Summary: Fear and Trembling / Kierkegaard - Problem III - part 3

To further demonstrate the difference between faith,the ethical and the aesthetic Kierkegaard appeals to the story of Agnes (Agnete) and the Merman. Kierkegaard makes some changes to the traditional version of the story about the merman seducing a girl. In Kierkegaard's version the merman is about to take Agnes to the deep when he sees a surrendering devotion in her. Unable to violate her innocent faith in him, he withdraws from his wicked intentions. Kierkegaard says that the merman too has a choice between concealment and disclosure. If he remains hidden he repents but leaves both him and loving Agnes unhappy, which will be a cause for new guilt for the merman. Another choice the merman has in Kierkegaard's account is to try deceive Agnes into not loving him anymore. This is appeal to what Kierkegaard calls the demonic which, like faith, stands outside the ethical, making the merman an individual. The merman can also either trust divine will to save Agnes or he can surrender himself to her.

Kierkegaard brings another story, that of Tobias who wanted to marry Sarah who has already buried seven husbands who were killed on their wedding night by a demon who loves her. For Kierkegaard the real hero of the story is no Tobias but rather Sarah who did not let her curse bury her. She takes responsibility for her fate as well as Tobias' and in the process endures compassion which is a form of humiliation. Like the merman, Sarah is a unique individual therefore stands outside of the ethical. She chooses between the demonic who despises others of the divine which is expresses in paradoxical faith. 

The last example Kierkegaard brings is that of Faust. For Kierkegaard Faust knows how to doubt by he also has compassion for the world and that is why he keeps his doubts silent. The ethical condemns this silence but Faust stands in his silence in absolute relation to the absolute which turns doubt into guilt, casting Faust into a Paradox

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